Stephanie Slade: What Kind of Libertarian Are You?

Figuring out the limits of big-tent libertarianism is no easy matter, but it's central to the movement's success.


Is libertarianism a specifically political philosophy whose only legitimate concern is the role of the state and its use of force vis a vis the people it rules?

Or does libertarianism, properly understood, also entail a variety of cultural commitments that range far beyond arguments over the size, scope, and spending of government?

To put it slightly differently: Can you really be a libertarian in the streets but an authoritarian or progressive in the sheets? 

That's the starting point of "Two Libertarianisms," a trenchant essay by Stephanie Slade that appears in the April 2022 issue of Reason (subscribe!). She's a senior editor at Reason and a student of the libertarian movement's often fractious relationships with conservatives and religion.

For today's Reason Interview, I talk with her about "thick" vs. "thin" libertarians, her background in political polling and growing up in the great state of Florida, and her ideas about the compatibility between Roman Catholicism and libertarianism.